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102-yr old in nuclear fall-out zone kills himself
Published on 14 Apr. 2011 10:39 PM IST
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A 102-year-old Japanese man killed himself because he did not want to leave his home in the extended radiation zone.
The centenarian lived in the village of Iitate, which until earlier this week was declared safe from radiation leaking from the crippled nuclear plant at Fukushima.
Government officials earlier insisted that anyone living within a 19-mile radius of the plant must move and either stay with relatives or take shelter in an evacuation centre outside the zone.
The elderly man was happy to learn that no one in his village, 25 miles from the plant, would have to move.
But then the government widened the exclusion zone to include Iitate - and he was devastated.
‘I’m not leaving,’ he told his family. ‘I’d rather die than leave my home.’
The old man’s name and details of his self-inflicted death have not been revealed.
Municipal officials said the man was upset as he discussed evacuation plans with his family and told them that he saw little point in leaving his home at this stage of his long life.
Under the new orders, the government insisted that residents should move out because of concerns over the effect of long-term exposure to radiation from the leaking nuclear plant.
The health of people living near the plant when it began spilling radiation into the atmosphere will have to be monitored for at least 20 years, medical officials said.Thousands of people have already been evacuated from a 12-mile radius around the plant, which began spewing toxic radiation after its cooling systems were disabled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
The new order to move people living up to 25 miles from the plant has left thousands homeless.
An official from Iitate village confirmed that a 102-year-old man living in the area had died, but said the circumstances of his death were still being investigated.
News of the death of comes as the Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan faces calls to quit over his handling of the country’s natural calamities and a nuclear crisis.
Kan, whose public support stands at about 30 per cent, had sought a grand coalition to help the country recover from its worst-ever natural disaster and enact bills to pay for the country’s biggest reconstruction project since the Second World War.
Kan’s Democratic Party controls parliament’s lower house but needs opposition help to pass bills because it lacks a majority in the upper chamber, which can block legislation. But the head of the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party - who last week ruled out joining hands - on Thursday pressured Kan to go.
At the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi plant in the northeast of the country, engineers were struggling to find a new way to cool one of the six crippled reactors as a large amount of radioactive water kept workers from reaching an internal cooling system knocked out by the tsunami on March 11.
Meanwhile, hundreds of police in white protective suits searched for the first time within a six-mile (10km) radius around the radiation-leaking complex for up to 1,000 bodies of missing people.
Police said that falling radiation levels have allowed them to search within a narrower radius around the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant than before. But they are working very carefully to avoid tearing their protective gear.
Japanese emperor makes first visit to quake-hit zone:
Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko Thursday visited a quake-hit city on their first trip to areas that were hit by last month’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.
The imperial couple met people at two emergency shelters in Asahi city in Chiba prefecture, where 13 people were killed in the March 11 earthquake and ensuing tsunami.
The couple had earlier visited evacuees at shelters in Tokyo and neighbouring Saitama prefecture, Xinhua reported.
Starting next week, the emperor and the empress would visit Ibaraki, Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures on trips that will continue through May, according to the public broadcaster NHK.

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